Religion: The Partisans of Reason and the Partisans of Prophetic Reports

April 8th, 2014

This episode discusses the rise of legal study circles in early Islam. We encounter Ahl al-Ra'y (Partisans of reason), Ahl al-Hadith (Partisans of prophetic reports), Abu Hanifa (d.767) and Malik (d.795).

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Religion: Law in Early Islam

March 21st, 2014

This episode introduces the early frames of Islamic law before its more sophisticated stages. We discuss, among other things, law in the Qur'an and the early conceptions of Sunna and Ra'y.

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Religion: Introduction to Islamic Law

March 2nd, 2014

What is Sharia? What is Fiqh? Is there a relation between law and theology?

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Religion: Rationalist Theology between the Mu`tazilites and the Ash`arites

February 8th, 2014

Today, we highlight the tenets of Mu`tazilism and the Ash`arite response to it. Ash`arism would grow to become the dominant theological school in Sunni Islam.

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Religion: The Created Qur’an

January 22nd, 2014

Today, we take a brief look at the important theological debate in early Islam over whether the Qur'an was created in history or rather eternal and uncreated. In our presentation, we discuss important contextual elements and encounter the early Abbasid Caliphs, the Rationalist Mu'tazilite theologians, and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.

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Religion: Leadership, Faith, and Free Will

January 10th, 2014

This episode elaborates on three early theological debates in early Islam, namely the leadership of the religious community, the relation of sinful actions to faith, and free will vs. determinism. Among other things, we encounter the Murji'a, the Jabriyya, the Qadariyya, and the Mu`tazila. 

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Religion: Early Theological Debates in Islam

December 20th, 2013

This episode starts introducing some early theological debates within Islam. What can these debates tell us about early Islam?  And how should we look at the relation between "orthodox" views and "heretical" ones? 

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History: Early Forms of Shi`ism

December 11th, 2013

Today, we briefly highlight the fall of the Umayyad dynasty and rise of the Abbasids in 750 CE. The focus of the episode will be on the development of early Shi`ism. We introduce the Imamis (Twelvers), the Isma`ilis (Seveners), and the Zaydis (Fivers). We also come across the notions of "Imam" and "Taqiyya."

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History: The Dome of the Rock and the Solidification of Muslim Identity in the Near East

November 11th, 2013

The period in which Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan ruled the early Arab empire (685-705) was an important moment in the cementing of a unique Muslim identity. Among the many significant actions taken at this time was the establishment of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. 

Sources and Additional Readings:

The History of al-Tabari
The First Dynasty of Islam       by G.R. Hawting
The Venture of Islam         by Marshall G.S. Hodgson
The Early Islamic Conquests       by  Fred M. Donner
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History: Husayn, Ibn al-Zubayr, and the Second Civil War

October 22nd, 2013

This episode highlights another round of internal strife within the early community (680-692). Umayyad rule is challenged from many corners. The grandson of Muhammad, Husayn and a number of his followers are massacred at Karbala, the Kharijites dominate central Arabia, and Abdullah Ibn al-Zubayr establishes himself as a serious alternative to the Umayyads. 

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